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"To Me..."

“People forget what the Christian faith is. They often quarrel with the prominence given to Heaven in Catholicism. They will sometimes say: ‘Is it not rather selfish to work for a reward? Is this not something degrading to mankind?’ They forget the essence of religion: it is ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’ It is not degrading to wish, at last, to possess someone or something that is the love of your heart. No man has been degraded by that; man has been lifted by it. Man is always at his noblest when he is in love with someone or something. With a person, a cause, an ideal. He is most unselfish when he is working for that. Heaven is not a reward in the sense that it is something for which we are laboring. God is our reward. That is what we mean by Heaven. In our foolish way what we strive for is to love God. He is the reward for which we were made. For Him every faculty is crying out all our time. We were made for everlasting things — for God, the knowledge, love and service of Him. We are interested in many of our own particular interests, whatever they happen to be. But it is not hard to show how these really are but fragments that mirror God…

“The world is so beautiful that it distracts us. Even we are tempted to say to God: ‘Why have You put such obstacles in my way? Why have You given me such a wonderful world to live in? Why have You given me such attractive people to live with?’ He has commanded that He alone shall be worshipped. It is the breaking of this commandment that ruins most human lives. For God they have substituted something less perfect. They see what is visible. They miss the invisible. Yet one should lead to the other. From the visible things the invisible are known. That is what Our Lord came to teach us. He took the world and showed it as a parable that could lead man to God. He sees a child — ‘Of such is the kingdom of God.’ He sees the sower. That too is a symbol of the kingdom. Whatever He sees is not something which blocks His vision of God, but something which opens and shows God manifestly. This is the definition of life that He came to teach. Cannot you see that God is right up against you? ‘Because you did it to the least of my brethren you did it to Me.’ That is the true view, the whole view of life for us. That is what should hearten us and should give meaning to our lives. ‘My life is small,’ you say. Naturally, but only because you are short-sighted. ‘I spend my life looking after this one or that one. I am at someone else’s service always. I never am allowed to live my own life.’ Yes, but see — cannot you see? ‘Because you did it to the least of My brethren.’ See Whom it is that you are serving? St. Francis got off his horse to kiss a leper. He did not see the leper. He saw deeper than that ruin of humanity. The leper would pass. His leprosy would fall from him, but that which was eternal in him would abide.” (Fr. Bede Jarrett, O.P., No Abiding City, ch. 4)

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